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The Witch – Press Screening Film Review – Varsity Theatre, Toronto – February 9, 2016



Elevation Pictures


By Erin Donnelly

If you aren’t a woodsy sort of person and tend to avoid going into the forest, the American-Canadian horror film The Witch will give you another reason not to go.

The film, which is set in the seventeenth century, tells the story of a Puritan family living in a secluded area in the backwoods of New England.  The family is put to the test when faced with the sudden and inexplicable disappearance of their infant son while in the care of the eldest daughter, Thomasin, played by actress Anya Taylor-Joy.   Father (Ralph Ineson) and mother (Kate Dickie) struggle to keep the family together as bizarre incidents escalate and it becomes apparent they are dealing with a force of evil, seemingly coming from the forest adjacent to their home.

Writer/director Robert Eggers is to be praised for his slow and deliberate build of suspense and horror as rational thought vanishes and the family slowly but surely spirals into mania and madness while accusing Thomasin of witchcraft.

The film is to be applauded for its accurate depiction of this period in time and its visually convincing presentation. Egger drew upon his fascination with stories, diaries and documentations of witches, and incorporated the knowledge into the film with stunning effectiveness.  He is also to be admired for the sense of foreboding he manages to convey to viewers via music and foreshadowing. The cast stays true to the time period, and their compelling acting is proof of their dedication and skill.

To be honest, there were a few scenes that felt somewhat confusing as to how they fit into the timeline of the plot.  As such, it is a movie that requires the viewers’ ongoing attention. Nonetheless, it is so well done that it keeps show goers on the edge of their seats as they fear and speculate what will happen next.

If YOU want to find out what happens next, catch The Witch in select theaters as of February 19th.